Flight Lieutenant Brian HigginsPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Neil Follett

A small statue and plaque commemorate Flight Lieutenant Brian Hartley Higgins who was killed in the crash of Catalina A24-39 at Nelson Bay, in New South Wales, May 1943. He was buried in a military cemetery in New South Wales. 

Flight Lieut. Brian Hartley Higgins, 28, D.F.C., and six other airmen were killed when an R.A.A.F. flying-boat crashed during exercises off the New South Wales coast. Flight-Lieut. Higgins, who lived at Wangaratta (Vic.), was one of the R.A.A.F.'s most experienced Catalina pilots. Flight - Lieut. Higgins was a member of the first RA.A.F. Catalina squadron to go into action in the South-west Pacific. He was stationed at Rabaul before Japan entered the war. He participated in the only two in the only two raids R.A.AF. Catalinas have made on the Japanese island. He bombed Rabaul eight times in the first two weeks of Jap occupations. He was over Rabaul when the Jap first used night fighters in the South west Pacific area. He escaped them by diving through the smoke of Matupi volcano. In all he flew 25 bombing missions in Catalinas and 25 in Mitchell bombers. About a year ago he rescued Lieut Walter Higgins, U.S. Liberator pilot and seven of his crew when they were forced down on a storm-swept reef near Trobriand Island while returning from bombing Rabaul. Higgins also had just returned from bombing Rabaul. He went out again landed in a rough sea near the reef, and took the Americans on board. Lieut. Walter Higgins, while on reconnaissance in a Liberator, first sighted the Japanese convoy destroyed in the Bismarck Sea battle.

Brian Higgins later rescued the crew of a U.S. Flying Fortress who had parachuted into dense jungle near the Gulf of Carpentaria. Blacktrackers, who reluctantly took a ride in Higgins' Catalina while Higgins pointed out parachutes tangled in trees, found four of the crew. Higgins located the four other missing men on a salt pan and landed his Catalina on what he thought was a coastal river. At dawn next morning, when he went to take off, he found the Catalina high and dry on a mud bank,  the 20ft. tide having receded. He had to wait until late afternoon for the tide to come in before he could take off.
Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 27 May 1943.


Address:1A Ford Street , St Patrick`s Catholic Church, Wangaratta, 3677
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -36.356477
Long: 146.323855
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Sculpture
Monument Theme:People
Actual Event STart Date:24-May-1943
Actual Event End Date:24-May-1943


Front Inscription

In Memory Of
Flight Lieut. Brian Hartley Higgins D.F.C.

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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